by Jannue Jordan, Digital Innovation Strategist
Lead gen…Lead nurture. Are they just buzzy, buzzy buzz words, or actual, factual strategies that can help your business? If you’ve spent any time in the digital marketing sphere, you would have bumped up against these terms a time or two. As a micro, small or medium enterprise, you may have wondered if it was relevant for your business, if you had the tools to pull it off, or even…what the heck it is, anyway! Well, we’re here to help!
What is lead nurturing?
To understand lead nurturing, you’ve got to understand the buyer’s journey. In a nutshell, a buyer passes through three stages along their path to purchase: Awareness, Consideration and Decision. This graphic from HubSpot illustrates this nicely.
In the Awareness stage, a buyer becomes aware of a pain or problem that needs to be solved. Take the Beehive, for example, a fictional ad agency in the heart of St Clair. All was well until the pandemic hit and Covid protocols called for regular sanitisation of work spaces. The facilities management team was flummoxed. Jasper, on the other hand, was a top senior account executive at that same ad agency. When the lockdowns first began and work from home policies were initiated, Jasper met the new challenge head on, but he began to notice his work days were stretching longer and longer into the evenings, and there were often times he didn’t remember to eat until well past 8pm! (Editor’s note: this is definitely not based on real life examples!)
In the Consideration stage, the buyer has defined their problem and has begun researching solutions. The Beehive facilities management team knew they needed to find a sanitisation service. The office would need to be cleaned at night to ensure minimal disruption during the day. They also needed a company that provided an on-call service in the event of Covid exposures. It seemed like hundreds sprung up overnight making huge promises. How would they know which company would best suit their needs? Jasper knew he needed to manage his work days better and his first step was instituting a lunch break. One problem though: juggling his packed schedule and having upwards of 8 meetings a day meant no time at all to cook. Could meal delivery be a solution?
In the Decision stage, the buyer has created a short list of providers, or a consideration set, and must now make a choice. After researching their top five cleaning companies (checking out their website and social media, reading customer reviews and viewing before and after videos), the Beehive’s facilities management team set up discovery calls with 3 companies to help with their decision. After comparing pricing packages, they entered into a contract with the company that best aligned with their needs. Jasper also earned himself an Employee of the Month award! After testing out the delivery service of a small catering company called WFH Treats thanks to their 1 month trial offer, he negotiated with the company to deliver to the rest of his work from home team!
By George, I’ve got it! Now, what’s the difference between “Lead Generation” and “Lead Nurturing”?
First off, what makes a lead…a lead? Well, what’s the difference between a window shopper and a customer with a shopping list? Intent! Most lead gen practitioners won’t consider someone a lead until they’ve communicated their interest or intent – placed a phone call, filled a form, visited a sales office, or taken some type of action that says:
- I’m not just here to browse and bounce. I have a problem and I think your offering can solve it.
- I’m so motivated to solve my problem that I’ve downloaded a content offer from you. I even filled out a contact form. I’m raising my hand to say, “I think I might want what you’re selling. Tell me more.”
Lead generation comprises the strategy, tactics and other activities executed to drive traffic to your chosen destination (website, landing page, social media, etc.) and convert that traffic into leads, or prospects. Lead nurturing comprises the strategy, tactics and other activities executed to encourage these leads to become customers. In short, lead generation is step one. Nurturing is step two.
Done right, lead gen campaigns get the attention of prospective shoppers and potentially earn your brand a spot in their consideration set. Let’s go back to the Beehive. WIClean, the company that won their business, clearly understood the buyer’s journey and mapped their strategy to that process by being present at every stage. This HubSpot flywheel sums it up nicely:
Attract-stage content helps the buyer define their problem and fits beautifully with lead gen campaigns. WIClean produced blog posts, infographics, and social media content that discussed the importance of regular sanitisation schedules, office-friendly Covid protocols and other helpful information that a certain facilities management team were inclined to pay attention to. Thanks to stellar work on WIClean’s part, this content was easily surfaced during the Beehive’s online searches.
Engage-stage content is aimed at the buyer in the consideration stage. At this point, the buyer is looking more seriously at their problem and ways to solve it, so WIClean published ebooks, toolkits, white papers and demo request forms on their website. The more helpful your content is at this stage, the more positively the buyer will perceive your brand. It may be tempting, but refrain from hard sell content in this phase – the buyer is still building their mental consideration set and the brands that make them feel understood and empowered will shoot to the top of that list. WIClean and the Beehive connected when the facilities team submitted an appointment request form.
Lead nurturing really means following up with the audience you’ve built in the lead gen phase, and providing the kind of attention that builds affinity in that audience. WIClean understood that while consideration-stage buyers like the Beehive are more motivated than most, they may still experience some reservations. Nurturing activities like emails featuring customer testimonials, free site visits, and before and after videos demonstrating the quality of their work helped WIClean dispel any fears that the Beehive had about subscribing to their service.
And Jasper? He was similarly motivated to find a solution to his no time to cook lunch issue. A quick online search led him to the WFH Treats’ Facebook page. After a short chat with their rep via Messenger, he was directed to their website, where a pop up on the home page advertised a free one month trial of daily deliveries. See where we’re going with this? In the third week of the trial, WFH Treats sent Jasper an alert that the trial was ending, and offered a generous subscription discount if he referred 5 or more friends. The rest was history!
That’s not all, folks!
Let’s go back to the flywheel.
Delight is the last phase, and it’s tied to the Decision stage of the buyer’s journey. Far too many businesses believe that all activity ends after a sale is made. Far from it! Now more than ever, today’s consumer understands just how valuable they are to a business and so they understandably expect more. Both WIClean and WFH Treats believe that word of mouth is the secret in their secret sauce, and they work hard to transform their buyers into promoters. WIClean offers contract renewal discounts, free quarterly deep cleans and loyal customer exclusives as an way to delight their customer base, encourage favourable recommendations and reviews, and ensure ongoing commitments. WFH Treats invites their daily lunch subscribers to exclusive test menu tastings and lets them have the final say on new lunch offerings. They also offer referral discounts in order to keep their business growing.
Lead nurturing is all about giving your customers the right kind of attention at the right time, and shepherding them through the sales process with a no-pressure approach. Launching a wide-ranging ad campaign and blanketing social media with content can build an audience with no problem, but marketers and business owners must be savvy enough to know that further efforts are required to guide their audience further down the sales funnel, identifying and targeting those who are truly motivated to buy. We hope you can follow in WIClean and WHF Treat’s footsteps and nurture your audiences with the kind of well-timed content that adds value to their lives and growth to your business!